SPARK Physical Education Programs

March 02, 2011 11:18 ET

Pennsylvania School District Gets Kids Moving With Innovative PE Program

Armstrong School District Finds School Specialty SPARK™ as Physical Education Provider Through NIH We Can! Link

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwire - March 2, 2011) - Prompted by data showing alarming rates of overweight conditions among children in their community, Armstrong County -- through a collaborative called HEALTHY Armstrong -- began working with We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition)®, a national childhood obesity prevention program developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The effort began back in September 2007, giving Armstrong County the distinction of being the first We Can! county in the nation. With the support of HEALTHY Armstrong, several programs have been implemented over the years with the goal of improving the health of the families community-wide.

So when HEALTHY Armstrong recently set out to increase students' activity levels, it found the solution through We Can!. Healthy Armstrong chose to provide School Specialty's SPARK program, one of four youth curricula that fall under the We Can! umbrella, as their evidence-based physical education program for elementary schools throughout the Armstrong School District.

West Hills Primary School and others in the county realized that SPARK could help them quickly reach their goal of increasing the number of minutes students were active each day. SPARK activities could be easily incorporated into physical education class, after school programs, and recess to maximize student activity time and make a positive impact.

"We are so lucky to have incorporated SPARK into our day," said Devin Lorigan, Health & Wellness coordinator for the Armstrong School District. "We teach the games to the students in physical education class and they use what they learned to play during recess. This gives all the students more opportunity for getting those hearts pumping. The teachers love it and the kids do, too!"

SPARK K-6 curriculum, training and equipment were provided to 18 teachers in November of 2010, impacting over 2900 elementary students in Armstrong School District. SPARK implementation was funded by the Active School Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and made possible by the contributions of HEALTHY Armstrong and the UPMC Health Plan.

School Specialty (NASDAQ: SCHS) is a leading physical education company that provides innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to help educators engage and inspire students of all ages and abilities to learn. For more information about School Specialty, visit

School Specialty SPARK is a collection of research-based Physical Education, After School, Early Childhood, and Coordinated School Health programs for educators serving Pre-K through 12th grade students. For more information on SPARK, visit

We Can!® is a science-based national education program developed by NIH -- a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- to help children ages 8-13 stay at a healthy weight through improving food choices, increasing physical activity, and reducing screen time. For more information, visit or call toll-free 866-35-WE CAN (866-359-3226).